Should I get a portable handheld UHF/VHF directional antenna?

Jhernan488

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Is it worth getting a directional antenna? Maybe to have for emergencies to get further range? Do you own one? What do you use it for?
 

mmckenna

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Depends on what you are trying to do.
A VHF Yagi is going to be a bit big and will take up some room. A 3dB gain antenna won't amount to much on the far end, maybe give you a bit of an advantage. To get a lot more performance, you really need something with several more dB of gain, but then it gets to be an awfully big antenna.

But, it's really easy to build your own. There's a number of websites that will have designs and calculators that will show you how to build them. There are some that use sections of old tape measurers that can collapse pretty small.

As a hobby, it's fun to play with antennas.
If it's for a true emergency, a PLB is a much better choice than amateur radio. Relying on a hobbyist to be there and be listening when you need help is asking a lot.
 

Jhernan488

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Depends on what you are trying to do.
A VHF Yagi is going to be a bit big and will take up some room. A 3dB gain antenna won't amount to much on the far end, maybe give you a bit of an advantage. To get a lot more performance, you really need something with several more dB of gain, but then it gets to be an awfully big antenna.

But, it's really easy to build your own. There's a number of websites that will have designs and calculators that will show you how to build them. There are some that use sections of old tape measurers that can collapse pretty small.

As a hobby, it's fun to play with antennas.
If it's for a true emergency, a PLB is a much better choice than amateur radio. Relying on a hobbyist to be there and be listening when you need help is asking a lot.
Okay, thanks for your reply.

I might look at building one as that would be fun. Do you know any good websites that you can post?

What is a PLB?
 

W5lz

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The only really good reason for a handheld directional antenna is if you are trying to track a satellite, or maybe a foxhunt. Otherwise, it's an unnecessary PITA in most cases. Wanna do it anyway? Why not, have at it!
 

prcguy

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I have a couple of fold up hand held log periodics made by Hy-Gain/Telex that cover about 2m through 240MHz that were originally sold for some frequency hopping hand held radios. They fold up to about 3ft long and a few inches around, are all flat black and have a belt holster of all things that sticks down to about my ankles when wearing it. The advertisement for the antenna showed a guy dressed in a safari type outfit on top of a hill surrounded by jungle and I suspect the main customer for these was the CIA for use in Central America during some conflicts in the 80s and 90s.

With all that said it makes a huge improvement in a handheld over a rubber duck or even a full size 1/4 wave whip on the radio on 2m and 220MHz. I can get into repeaters that I can't without it, but its not something I would ever use beyond some testing due to its size.
 

ko6jw_2

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I have the Arrow 2m/440 yagi. It was designed for satellite work and I have used it successfully for that. I mainly use it for additional gain to hit marginal repeaters during ARES events. Also used it for side band contacts from mountain tops. Not very expensive and mounts on a camera tripod if desired. Breaks down for transport. Has a duplexer for a single feed or can be fed directly for higher power.
 

mancow

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I have a couple of fold up hand held log periodics made by Hy-Gain/Telex that cover about 2m through 240MHz that were originally sold for some frequency hopping hand held radios. They fold up to about 3ft long and a few inches around, are all flat black and have a belt holster of all things that sticks down to about my ankles when wearing it. The advertisement for the antenna showed a guy dressed in a safari type outfit on top of a hill surrounded by jungle and I suspect the main customer for these was the CIA for use in Central America during some conflicts in the 80s and 90s.

With all that said it makes a huge improvement in a handheld over a rubber duck or even a full size 1/4 wave whip on the radio on 2m and 220MHz. I can get into repeaters that I can't without it, but its not something I would ever use beyond some testing due to its size.
Those things are a pain to deploy.
 

vagrant

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I have the Elk Log Periodic 2m/70cm antenna.
- Easy to put together and breakdown
- Easy to use when working the satellites
- Works vertical, horizontal, or at an angle which is best at times with satellites
- I use it on a 16' painters push up pole for the ARRL VHF/UHF contests and it performs very well
- I also use it for transmitter hunts

I compared it to the Arrow antenna a friend has. I found the beam width was broader on the Elk. This allows me to acquire and hold satellites easier.
 

Otto

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That Elk bean is awesome! It even works well inside hotel rooms when I travel!! www.ElkAntennas.com ;)
I have the elk and a Arrow 4 element backpacking yagi. I find that the Arrow tends to get me farther on VHF SSB than the elk. Plus the elk is a pain to mount on my telescopic fishing pole because of the pvc pipe arrangement it uses for mounting. The Arrow is easier and slicker to deploy in portable operations. Both are good antennas, but I find I use the Arrow more often than the elk. The elk has a smaller footprint, so it does have that advantage over the Arrow.
 

ko6jw_2

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The Elk is a fine antenna. I have both the Arrow and the Elk. I agree that the Arrow is easier to mount. I use a photo light stand with a large clip that holds the foam hand grip. The Elk on the other hand has a PVC arrangement that is not as easy to mount. Also, if you use the Elk vertically, you must run the feed line horizontally away from the antenna for a quarter wavelength or the SWR will be high.

The Elk bills itself as a log periodic. However, it only covers 2 meters and 440 and nothing in between unlike a true log periodic.

On the other hand, the Arrow is cross polarized and you must rotate it depending on which band you are using. Fine for satellite work, but not as good for terrestrial use.
 

N4DJC

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I don’t own an Arrow, but my Elk works really well. Very portable, easy to handle (boom is only 22”) and store.
 

vagrant

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I do not find the Elk difficult to mount, especially because of the PVC arrangement. A few dollars and a trip to the local hardware store easily provided the fittings I needed, in particular a three way tee that has a larger 3/4 or 1" on one of them which faces down. This makes it easy to couple it up with other one inch fittings and hold it tight.

For the the 16' telescoping painters pole I applied a little electrical tape on the threads. I then twisted on some small PVC thing that had a threaded hole in it. The bottom of the 3 way tee fits right on top of that and the compression fit keeps it steady.

There are various options of ready made inexpensive PVC parts that can be easily modified to fit the task. Will it last for decades in the sun and snow, I do not know. Will it work very well for a weekend, or week long trip, yes.

- - Click on image for more fun! - -
Elk.jpg
 

kayleesdad

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I like the elk dual band and the arrow dual band.

I have the elk dual band in a small canvas zipper bag that fits the antenna, cable, and additional PVC pipes and connectors. It's easy to put together and launch a signal from a clearing holding it about 10 feet off the ground. It's great for making an HT do a much much better job.

I sometimes take the 440 elements off of the arrow and use it as a lightweight yagi for 2m simplex nets and it does great with an HT at 5 watts at about 25 feet off the ground and I am at near sea level.

I look at the omnidirectional HT antennas that I have and wonder why I bothered with them-- should have spent that money on my mobile directional antenna endeavours.

Gotta have mobile directional antennas.
 
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